Jakarta. Indonesia’s famous Muslim cleric Abdul Somad was denied entry at a Singapore port as he arrived with his family for a vacation from nearby Batam Island on Monday.
Somad said Singaporean authorities didn’t provide any specific reason why he was refused entry.
“They couldn’t explain, immigration officials couldn’t explain. The person who may be able to provide an explanation is the Ambassador of Singapore in Jakarta,” Somad said in an interview uploaded on “Hai Guys Official” YouTube channel.
He then continued his words in English: “You have to explain to our communities: Why did your country, why did your government reject us?”
“Why? Is It because of terrorism, ISIS, or drug [allegations]?” he continued in the Indonesian language.
Somad claimed that he passed immigration checks after tapping the fingerprint reader and having his passport stamped.
But Somad was then asked to return and so were all other persons in his group including his wife and child and a friend and his family members after he said he was not alone.
According to him, they were kept in a small room for hours before being sent back to Batam on the day's last ferry.
Footage from the "detention room" apparently taken with a cellphone camera was shown during the interview.
Separately, Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Suryopratomo said Somad was not deported by the nieghbor.
Somad simply wasn’t allowed to enter the city state, the envoy told Indonesian news website Kumparan on Tuesday, adding that he had communicated with Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
“According to the ICA … [Somad] didn’t meet the eligibility criteria to enter Singapore,” Suryopratomo said.
The ICA, however, didn’t provide further explanations for the decision, he added.
Somad said in the YouTube video that it was not the first time he had been denied entry by a foreign country.
In 2018, the Muslim preacher was not allowed to stay after arriving at Timor Leste airport over a “terrorism allegation”, he said.
Somad has millions of followers in Indonesia but some of his remarks often invited controversies for offending other faiths. He has been kept from delivering sermons by people on the predominantly-Hindu island of Bali.
In one video, he was caught telling his audience that the Christian cross contains an infidel genie.
He also declared domino and chess games as haram or against the Islamic teachings.
He took the political path at the height of the presidential election and later endorsed then-presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto who eventually lost to Joko Widodo in 2019.
Somad alleged the rejection in Timor Leste and Singapore was a result from political intervention by Jakarta.